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By
(1819-1880)
The main story revolves around the life
and love of Adam Bede, a carpenter of good and honest character. Adam is a
practical head of his family, which includes his father, Thais Bede, who has
taken to drink and has lost the respect of his son, Lisbeth, the well meaning but
weakly fussy mother and Seth Bede, his brother, who is a Methodist. Seth is in
love with his fellow Methodist, Dinah Morris. Although, Seth has tried his luck
with Dinah once yet tries his luck once again. Seth assures her that marriage
will not prove a hindrance in her religious duties. Dinah respects him very much,
but she does not accept his proposal, because she feels that she should not
marry. However, she assures him that if she ever thinks of marriage, he would be
the first one. Poor Seth is dejected but tries to find consolation ('---=') in her
assurance.
Adam is working in the workshop of Mr. Burge who desires that Adam
should marry his daughter. In that case, he is ready to make him a partner in the
business. However, Adam is in love with the pretty nice of Poysers named Hetty
Sorrel. Hetty is a woman of a very shallow nature. Moreover, she has a soft
corner for the heir of the village squire (-''=) namely Arthur-Donnithorne.
Arthur is a childhood friend of Adam. He is a good man but is of a weak moral
character and cannot resist the charm of Hetty. Unknown to Adam, Arthur and
Hetty meet in the woods in the cottage which Arthur has furnished for living. At
a birthday party, Arthur has paid great attention to Hetty, so that she started
thinking to live a life of with Arthur and of the charms of that such a life would
provide. Naturally, the offer of Adam now means nothing to vain Hetty.
Arthur and Hetty are once surprised in the woods by Adam, who happens
to pass that way just when two lovers are bending down for a kiss. Adam gets
angry to see that he is being betrayed by his best friend. He forces a fight on
Arthur and knocks him unconscious. In fact, for a time it appears to Adam that
he has killed Arthur. Adam insists that the affair must end at once. He forces
Arthur to write a letter to Hetty, in which he informs her that their love-affair
must not continue. Hetty is shocked to find all her dreams turning to dust and
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ashes. In this situation a proposal from Adam appears to her a best chance.
Burge offers partnership to Adam regardless of marriage with his daughter.
Adam is now in a position to support a wife and makes a proposal to Hetty.
Hetty accepts him and an early date is fixed for their marriage.
All seems to be well for the major characters, Adam, Arthur and Hetty,
when a tragedy strikes a swift blow which engulfs all of them. Hetty discovers
herself pregnant. She did not inform anyone about this situation. On the pretext
(-'-) of inviting Dinah for marriage, Hetty leaves home. The object of her journey
is Arthur, how has gone away with his regiment but has left his address with her
in case of an emergency. After a tiring journey, she reaches the place but
discovered that in the meanwhile the regiment has moved to Ireland. At the end of
her resources, she at last decided to meet Dinah. However, she unexpectedly
gives birth to a child in the house of a kind-hearted and God-fearing couple. She
leaves the place on the very next day. It is known later that she placed the infant
in a hollow under a tree and covered it with grass and small pieces of wood. Later,
she comes back to look for the child, which, in the meanwhile, has been taken
away by a man who has seen a small hand coming out of the grass. On reaching
home, he finds the infant to be dead. He informs authorities and Hetty is arrested
for child-murder.
In Hays lope, this news first reaches the priest, Mr. Irwin. In the
meanwhile, Adam has been on the futile search for Hetty. He, now, learns the
bitter truth from Irwin and also tells him that he knows about Hetty and Arthur.
Hetty is tried for the crime of murdering her own child, is found guilty and
sentenced to death. She is saved from the very verge (-='-) of death by a hard
won relief by Arthur. Her punishment is changed into life imprisonment.
Dinah Morris succeeds in moving the hardened heart of Hetty and
obtaining a full confession from her. During Hettys trial she comes in close
contact with Adam and falls in love with him. Seth despairs of success with
Dinah in his love-suit and asks Adam to try his luck with her. Adam does so
and is accepted. Hetty undergoes a long imprisonment, is released but dies on
her way home. Arthur decides to join the army and leaves Hays lope.
Q 1:
Discuss merits and demerits of George Eliots plot
construction with special reference to her novel Adam
Bede.
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Or
What are the new trends that are introduced by George
Eliot in plot construction in English novel writing? Discuss
with special reference to her novel Adam Bede.
Answer:
George Eliot is considered to be a revolutionary name in the field of novel
writing. She has been considered among the last of Victorians but first in the
modern novelist. Her modern approach created a sensation in the literary circles.
In the hands of George Eliot novel undergoes a clear cut change. It is truly said
that from the time of Fielding to George Eliot conception (-- -) of the form of
English novel remained unchanged.
One of the important changes introduced by George Eliot is that of
providing a complex plot and psychoanalysis of her characters. In Adam Bede
she has very beautifully given the inner workings of Arthur, Adam and Hettys
minds. She analyses their motives, mental process, inner conflicts, their souls
and development of their characters. She dissects the soul of her characters and
brings out their inner struggle.
In the earlier novels, the plot was of straightforward nature and unity was
only in terms of the presence of hero. But, in the novels of George Eliot we come
across the refined (- .--'-) elements of the crafts of fiction. The plot of
Adam Bede is not well unified as that of Mill on The Floss and
Middlemarch, yet it shows the quality introduced by George Eliot.
Adam Bede does not have a loose plot to which we were used to in the
early novels of Jane Austen and Dickens. The plot of this novel is skillfully put
together and we really appreciate the full magic of its story and see that it is a
great work of art. The plot is preconceived ('- - '-) by the author. The story
unfolds the character as it proceeds further. The story teller works her will on us
because we are convinced that these people and town or village actually exists.
When we read the suffering of the characters, we indulge in the natural human
tendency to sympathize.
In Adam Bede the events and the background are intermingled perfectly.
The evolution of the plot depends upon the qualities of the characters as well as
the opportunities provided and restrictions imposed by the environment. This is
exactly what happens in Adam Bede. The opportunities and restrictions act and
react so impressively that the plot takes a lofty image in the eyes of the readers.
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The full effect of Arthurs submission to the sensual appeal of Hettys charm and
innocence and all that happens later on depends upon the relationship of both
the character to each other and to the world. The pride and self-respect of Poysers
(Hettys family), is established in readers mind by the vivid () picture of their
surroundings, their domestic life and the performing of their church duties. All
these elements play a very vital role in the plot of Adam Bede to cause a tragedy
and enhancing the bitterness. It is the social background and the standard of
conduct that makes it necessary for Hetty to run away before the birth of illegal
child. It is the honour which creates a sense of affliction (--'-) for them.
Adam Bede deals with different aspects of human life at different levels.
Even Arthur cannot tolerate the shame that was brought due his relation with
Hetty. Most of the action that we see in this regard provides us the inner psyche
of the characters and reveals the importance of this form of honour. This special
interest of the plot is the whole novel. As famous critic Gerald Bullet says, The
dramatic strength of Adam Bede lies in the story of Hetty, so strongly
imagined and so honestly told, giving the reader great psychological
insight into the behaviour patterns of the characters involved in special
intimacy. The sense of humanity, warm sense of rural comedy and hustle
and bustle of life is wonderfully amalgamated in the main plot.
Like all great novels, Adam Bede has also some flaws. Critics make the
point that the end of the novel is not that impressive as it should be. The
weakness of plot is mentioned on different levels. The oppressive (--'-''=) nature
of Adam and Dinah, the sacrifice of probability ('-'--=), and the untidy (--'- -)
ending have often been mentioned in this regard. But these minor flaws become
pardonable ('- .-') when we see that Georg Eliot was giving new trends in the
field of plot construction. This new experiment bound to have some failure.
In short, it can be safely said that Adam Bede has a very special chain of
events which has been marvelously arranged to build a forceful plot. George
Eliots effort is highly appreciable in this regard.
Q 2:
Discuss George Eliots art of characterization with
special reference to Adam Bede.
Answer:
In novel writing, like the dramatic art the significance of characterization
cannot be denied. Particularly the modern novelists lay great emphasis on the
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true and forceful delineation of characters. The great the quality of
characterization, the higher is the appeal of fiction writing. This is exactly what
we find in almost all the great writings of George Eliot. She is rightly credited
with introducing an almost revolutionary change in the delineation and
presentation of characters. The novelists of later generation have fully
acknowledged the greatness of George Eliot in this regard. D. H Lawrence, one
of the most influential modern novelists pays tribute to George Eliot in the
following words:
It was she who started it all; it was she who started to put all the
action inside her characters.
George Eliots skill in characterization is now fully recognized, though it is
generally believed that this mastery is exhibited only in Middlemarch and
more particularly in the Mill on the Floss. To some degree Eliots matchless
skill is shown equally well in Adam Bede, her first full length novel. Even here
her characters are made perfectly credible and their motives are fully established.
It has been mentioned by many critics that she exposes all the complex feelings of
spirit that strike at the doors of disturb conscious. She describes the action
before it is committed. She reveals the actions when they are taking shape into
the hearts. When they are committed their ugliness is exposed. For instances, the
character of Arthur is the best example of the change brought in by the novelist
herself. In portraying this particular character, she lays bare all the conscious as
well as semi-conscious emotions which compel him to action. We see the working
of his inner most mind.
The characterization in Adam Bede is absolutely vivid and memorable. In
the words of a modern critic, There is not a single character in the novel
which is not perfectly drawn, even if the portrait is but a sketch still it is a
true one. Even the character of Mr. Irwin, the person, is very carefully
drawn and plays a very impressive role in the final predicament ('=-) of
Hetty. His religious learning has made him a very sensible and caring
figure. The sufferings and agonies of humanity seem to him his own
sufferings. He extends full cooperation to anybody who undergoes injustice,
oppression and unfair treatment. Even such a minor character finds full
opportunity to make a mark on the readers.
The other critic, Hennery James and Gerald Bullet have found some
irregularities in the characterization in Adam Bede. For example, it is their
belief that the major characters like Adam and Dinah do not arouse the desired
interest. They also claim that the character of Mrs. Poysers has been over praised.
Both these critics are unanimous (---) in their opinion that Hetty has been the
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most successful creation of all the characters. Her innocence, great interest in
life, her sharing capability, and great interest in human psyche and her free and
frank attitude in all matters of life make her a very complete character, the most
suitable for the modern day fiction.
The whole gallery of characters, from major to minor, has been beautifully
projected to create desired effect. The perfection and imperfection of the
personalities of different characters make a wonderful sense of literary triumph
by the great novelist. The peak of characterization becomes self-evident when we
glance at the variety of characters, roles they perform and the inner coordination
that they exhibit at every level. The psychological pattern of inner thinking is the
hallmark (-'-- '-'--) of special gift of characterization of George Eliot. The complex
feelings keep on adding to the overall effect and the thematic interpretations (----)
of the different segments of the plot. The collective picture that emerges out of
this fine blend of action and characterization is a gem (--'-') indeed. No other
novelist of George Eliots era can claim to have produced such marvelous
interlink ('- `- '-) and psychological treatment at such an artistic level.
Characterization is definitely a special feature of George Eliots art of novel
writing, which is difficult to surpass ('-'= ' ----).
To conclude, it can be said with absolute confidence that the writing of
George Eliot are full of unique characters which are larger than life. The typical
flavour of George Eliots own personality gives colour and broader dimension to
her characters. The matchless characters are the proud product of strong mind of
the writer. Adam, Hetty, Dinah and few others testify this reality.
Q 3:
Give a character sketch of Adam Bede.
Answer:
Adam is an intelligent but not well educated rural carpenter who feels that
he understands the nature of the things. For him life is very simple and he
believes that the world operates according to certain mechanical principles which
never change. He also believes that one should spend ones life according to
certain principles of right conduct. He is an unemotional person and believes that
one should always do ones duty no matter what the circumstances are. For this
reason he is a sober young man, totally dedicated to his work. He rarely does
things for his own pleasure but always tries to do the right thing in every
situation.
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Such a kind of attitude creates many fine qualities in him. Adam has a
strong nature. He is brave and aggressive and does not yield under pressure,
because he thinks he knows what right is. He is self-confident and expresses
himself honestly. His dedication to his duty makes him strong willed and
determined person. It also leads him to approach problems in a logical forward
looking way. All in all, he is a very optimistic young man as novel opens. He feels
that he can handle any situation through positive action. He feels that he is in
control of himself and of the course of his life.
The deep study of novel reveals that Adam is somewhat immature. Even the
experiences of life have not changed his strict view point. As his reaction to his
father shows that he lacks sympathy for other peoples weaknesses. He is
dedicated to duty himself and he expects others to have same attitude in life. He
is thus self-righteous and somewhat intolerant. His basic aggressiveness is
expressed through his violent attitude. Sometimes, he seems to feel that violence
is the most honest and practical way to solve the problems. As he feels in control
of his situation, he is a proud and self-centered man. He is the one who clings to
his own opinion and insists on getting his own way.
The negative features in his personality emerge most clearly in his first
reaction to Arthur when he comes to know about the love affair between Arthur
and Hetty. His passions get out of hand and he tries to solve his problem in the
most direct possible way by taking physical revenge on Arthur and then forcing
him to write to Hetty about terminating the relationship. At this point his pride
has even corrupted his good qualities and he refuses to forgive Arthur.
The regret that Adam feels for having knocked Arthur down is the first step
towards maturity. He realizes that he has done something rash which serves no
useful purpose and which cannot be retracted ( - +-- ' ). From this point, under the
influence of Dinah, Mr. Irwin and his own experience, he begins to soften. He
becomes acquainted with irremediable evil at Hettys trial. It is the sort of
situation which he cannot control or set right. This places him in a dilemma and
he solves it by accepting the imperfect situation and by extending sympathy to
Hetty and Arthur. In short, he becomes humble and instead of judging peoples
behaviour by his own standards, he treats them well in spite of their faults. His
self-righteous and intolerance fall away and he realizes that doing right implies
acting in a loving way whether people come up to his notion of proper conduct or
not. The pride which has isolated him from others vanishes and he accepts his
own and his nears limitations. After a great struggle, he is able to put others
happiness before own, even to forgive the man he had considered his enemy.
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Adams personality is consistent throughout the novel. His values simply
shift as he grows more mature and realistic. At the end, he is still strong but now
his strength founded on acceptance of the world as it is. He has come to see that
it is more important to love than to be technically right in any given situation.
Adam is thus Eliots primary illustration of the way in which a man can develop
what according to her standard is proper self understanding. He becomes moral
instead of moralistic and evolves gentleness. In short, Adam Bede is a perfectly
round character and grows steadily throughout the course of the novel.


Q 4:
Give a character sketch of Dinah Morris.
Answer:
To most of the readers sweet pity of Dinah seems distasteful. It seems like
too much of a good thing. But this reaction is based on an unhistorical view of the
character, it is not valid (-'=- =-'-). Dinah Morriss style of speech seems quite
odd to the modern reader but this was a fact that such type of speech was
common in 18
th
century. The reader of 21
st
century finds it unnatural but George
Eliot was creating a historically accurate picture and this should be kept in mind
while judging her characters.
On the other hand, this wrong reaction to Dinahs character is quite valid.
Most critics of the world urge that Dinah is not a realistic character. She is an
ideal and a perfect woman who has no fault. Perhaps she is the personification of
abstract ( '-+) goal of Eliots ethical system. There are perfect no women in the
world, nor there likely to be. Dinah is rather clearly inhuman in her piety.
Without any doubt Dinah is a good woman. She is completely dedicated to
the Lords work. Wherever she encounters suffering, she tries to alleviate it. She
has spent her whole life in deeds of charity. Dinahs piety is not an abstract one.
She preaches what she believes and practices what she preaches. Through long
experience she had discovered how to comfort people and bring them to God. In
the course of novel, she had a good effect on everyone she comes in contact with.
Dinah is also entirely humble. She considers herself as the servant of the people.
She is a working woman and no task is too mean for her. She visits afflicted
people in prison and in their simple cottages and she shares their hard life with
them.
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The close study of the novel makes it quite evident that she is absolutely
selfless. She never allows any thought of her own comfort to interfere with the
performance of her duty. She looks upon her own desires as temptations which
must be restricted. She always places God before man and other people before
herself. And finally she is totally benevolent. Dinah never does anything which is
not likely to have good effects. She has no dislikes and she treats everyone with
respect and sympathy. No one in the novel disapproves her behaviour. She is
universally praised by all who know her.
Dinah gives up her life of taking care and preaching when she marries
Adam. But, she takes this step only after assuring herself that it is Gods will and
her basic personality does not change at all. Dinah remains at the end what she
was at the beginning. She was a morally perfect woman with the face and bearing
of an angle and the heart of a saint.
To conclude, we may say that George Eliot has presented Dinah as a
symbol of womanly virtue and as a very caring character. She is affectionate,
cooperating, sympathetic and very tender hearted. We learn from different parts
of the novel about her generosity and large-heartedness. Every critic has shown
his appreciation for Dinah for her harmless nature and her appealing personality.
George Eliot has certainly presented a larger than life character in the figure of
Dinah. The readers have naturally great regard for her. Her personality gives a
very sober colour to the entire action of the novel. The inner piety of the novelist
reflects through the noble character of Dinah.
Q5:
Discuss the local colour and comic relief in Adam Bede.
Answer:
As a literary term, local colour refers to description of life and character in
particular locality. The customs of the people, their speeches, their particular way
of looking at things is presented to the reader often in a slightly sentimentalized
or desirous way. Dickens and Bret Harte are probably the best known
practitioners of this type.
Comic relief is familiar term which needs careful examination. An author
wants to relive the intensity of the serious plot-line by inserting comic characters
or situations. These entertaining devices help keep the readers interest lively and
balance out the fictional picture of the half tragic, half comic world. Probably, the
most famous comic relief in English literature is the knocking at the gate in
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Macbeth, where sight of drunken porter relaxes the audiences after the murder
of Duncan. Eliot uses both these devices in Adam Bede. In a strict sense most
of the novel is full of local colour. The settings and the speeches of the characters
belongs to a specific time and place. But certain characters function almost
entirely as local colour figures. These people are actually the part of the novels
background. They provide a concrete atmosphere in which central action of the
story takes place. Mr. Poyser is a typical Warwickshire farmer and Mr. Ben
exemplifies the typical attitude of the Warwickshire town labourer of his days.
Eliot gives a lot of attention to the habits and customs of the local people.
For example, most of chapter 6 and 18 describes what ordinary people did and
said on ordinary days in the Warwickshire countryside in 1800. The pictures
presented at different levels of the village life are relevant and realistic. They are a
frank and representation of the functioning physical world of that time. Parts of
book 3, especially chapter 25 on the games at the Arthurs birthday party show
how people celebrate an important event. We find the local custom of the harvest
supper.
The sections of the novel which concentrate on developing local colour serve
other purposes as well. For example, in book 3 we see calm prevails before the
storm. Eliot builds up suspense by talking of minor matters, while delaying the
explosion of the inevitable conflict. We see that suspense is created in chapter 53
while Dinah thinks over Adams proposal from different angles. These events also
provide the much needed comic relief. It is no accident that the relatively
lighthearted portion of the novel comes after the grim conflict between Adam and
Arthur. This has been done deliberately to minimize the emerging tension.
Thus local colour and comic relief work hand in hand in Adam Bede.
Eliot is determined to write a realistic novel about common people, dig her
memories of childhood and creates a specific concrete world. She projects it in a
very sentimental way and takes delight in the charming presentation of rural folk.
Eliot does not forget that one important function of the novelist is to entertain. So
she provides us something to laugh at by describing the real life pattern of the
village people.
To conclude, it can be said that the entire novel is full of local environment
and there is no dearth (-) of comic relief. These two vital elements of the novel
add beauty and comprehensiveness to the novel writing of George Eliot. Her
quality does not make Adam Bede laborious (-'= --=-), boring or unattractive
rather local colour and comic relief should be taken as very strong plus point of
the novelist.
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Q 6:
Discuss George Eliot as a modern novelist.
Answer:
George Eliot has a distinction of being regarded as the first modern novelist
in the real sense of the word. She introduced a conception of novel which is still a
continuing effect on the current pattern of novel writing. The main reason of her
fame is that she is first modern novelist in English.
The first period of the English novel begins with Fielding and ends with
Trollope. The second period is of Henry James and Meredith. Third period
started with George Eliot and is hardly over today. Though, she was not a
revolutionary genius like Emily Bronte, yet her mode of writing and her personal
temperament were cautious ('-=-) and scholarly. Her books do have a shadow of
his predecessors as she learnt a lot from them. Although, her mode of writing was
very much like Victorian yet there are some important differences as well.
Though, she does not break the old tradition which she inherited, yet she altered
its fundamental characteristics. She used the old formulas but used them for a
new purpose. Her creative impulse gave her a new inspiration.
Even George Eliot has used some of the literary ingredients as used by
earlier Victorian novelists but she gives them totally different value. For instance,
the theme of Middlemarch involves a description of the social life as elaborate
as that of Trollope, but this description is not her chief interest in writing the
story. The farm life in Adam Bede is there to provide an occasion for telling the
story. The significant feature that makes George Eliot a modern novelist is the
separate scene and characters. The things which have primary importance for the
Victorian novelists have secondary importance for Eliot.
George Eliots novels do not consist of a number of characters with
haphazard (-'--) plot imposed on them in order to keep them together. The plot
did not arise from the characters, except in the case of Vanity Fair. George
Eliot started the idea of characters and situations. She did not intend to follow
the standardized formula. Hence, she developed something which was quite
different from the accepted Victorian notion of a plot. There was no marriage, no
happy ending and no characters according to the Victorian conception of hero
and heroine. The Mill on the Floss ends badly and has no hero at all. In
Middlemarch there is no central figure of any kind and main interest is divided
between four separate groups of characters and none of them approaches the
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conventional heroic type. Moreover, as the action of the story arises logically from
the characters, those strokes of fortunate, coincidences, sudden inheritance, long
last wills which the main material are in ordinary Victorian plot, are totally
absent.
The great novels of earlier period had mainly been written for the
entertainment of middle classes. Their subject matter was limited. But for George
Eliot the novel was medium for the discussion of serious problems. Eliot is a
distant landmark in the history of the English novel. She does not regard novel as
entertainment. In her hands novel becomes a fit vehicle for the highest art as well
as profound criticism of life. She regards individuals more important than society.
The society must come forward to add to the happiness of the individual. It must
not bring hurdles in the path of individual aspirations.
In short, we see that from every point of view George Eliot can be regarded as the
first real modern novelist in English literature. Her plots, her social technique,
her psychological insights and her own special flavour of liberated personality
makes her true representative of modern version of novel.
Q 7:
Discuss George Eliots realism.
Or
What are the biographical elements in Adam Bede?
Or
Discuss the dear reader technique of George Eliot in
Adam Bede.
Or
Discuss Eliots psychological approach in Adam Bede.
Answer:
George Eliot has been considered as the intellectual novelist. For every
intellectual novelist realism is necessary, but for Eliot it is a creed and ambition.
She declares her stories as a criticism of life; hence she draws her stories from
actual life. She draws her own model and deals everything with devoted and
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sincere truthfulness. Whereas, such truthfulness is missing in Dickens and
Faulkner, rather there is an air of artificiality in their work. Eliot says:
Falsehood is so easy, truth is so difficult.
But for writer like Eliots intellect, it is very difficult to create falsehood.
In Eliots time, the dear reader technique was widely used. The method
derives from the conception that since fiction was literally (-- -- .') untrue hence
was a deception and morally unhealthy. 18
th
century writers, especially Defoe
took pains to insist that their novels were real account of true happenings.
Although, 19
th
century gradually came to accept fiction as fiction, the custom of
speaking directly to the readers would do persisted. It took novel another forty
years to take its place as a serious art form.
Through out Adam Bede, Eliot pretends that it is a true story. She takes
the position of one who is merely recording events as heard by her. Almost all the
background of her stories arises from her early childhood memories of the
Warwickshire countryside. For this reason she says that her novels are her
experience of life. Though there is great contribution and blend of imagination,
yet description have a warmth and colour of memory.
In Adam Bede events of the story take place in 1799 i.e. about half a
century before it is written, yet George Eliot shows such a clear picture of past,
that to many older people it reminds the era of their early years or childhood.
Hays lope world is as true as any village in England.
Eliot draws her characters from real life. In Adam Bede she describes that
Dinah Morris is a pen picture of her own Methodist aunt, Mrs. Samuel Evans.
Though, her aunt is not like Dinah in her softness and beauty, yet the main idea
is taken from her. Even the main theme of the story i.e. confession and execution
of a woman, on murdering her child, is taken from account of a similar incident
by Eliots same aunt. Thus she tries to make it more real by using original story.
It is said that her character of Adam, resembles Eliots father very closely.
Her power of observation goes hand in hand with her memory and
imagination. It is her deep observation of peoples behaviour in daily life, which
makes her character more close to reality. Mrs. Poyser represents true wit and
humour of a pure countrywoman of that time. It is said that she had some
characteristics of Eliots mother. Through Arthur Eliot bitterly satirizes the
general behaviour and customs of landlords.
Eliot also depicts the psychological realism in her novels. She has deep
insight in her human nature and she unveils its weaknesses. Her stories define a
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certain moral conflict of human life; the conflict of duty and desire, of heart and
head, of mind and soul. The inner world of her characters is more important to
her than the outer one. She skillfully penetrates to the inner-self of her character
and thus exposes them.
Eliots keen observation of human nature is also visible in the minor
incidents of the novel. For instance, mans natural selfishness is revealed through
various characters. As when Hetty resolves to forgive Arthur, it is also for the
sake of her own salvation ('=-). Another example of Eliots intellect and insight in
human nature is shown in the marriage of Adam with Dinah. It expresses man
natural instinct to escape from pain and suffering, and that every passion losses
its intensity with the passage of time.
Eliot has been criticized on grounds of exaggerating in some cases. An
objection is raised that she has made Hettys sufferings prolonged and acute ( --
-=-), and she does not deserve such extremely harsh treatment. The reason might
be so that being a moralist; Eliot could not spare even the slightest moral lapse in
her female characters. Another, objection is that she has made Adam and
Dinah too good to be true. Their excessive goodness makes them unreal. But
this was done by Eliot with a definite aim to reject the popular notion of her time
that all men and women are mere temptress (' -'- - ' -).
In short, George Eliots wisdom, intellect and imagination do not go for
from reality. Her insight into human nature brings the very truth about ourselves
in front of us also. It is her trait which differ her from other Victorians and make
her first in the queue of modern novelists.
Q 8:
Discuss George Eliot as a moralist.
Or
Adam Bede is dramatization of ultimate best in man.
What is your opinion?
Or
Adam Bede learns through pains. His knowledge of
suffering makes him the man of high standing. Do you
agree?
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Answer:
In her youth, George Eliot came in contact with intellectual figures of her
age. When her vision widened, she lost faith in Orthodox ( -- ---' ) Christianity,
and after that she could not believe in the supernatural concepts and immortality
of human soul throughout her life. For this reason she has been accused of being
agonistic (' - '-- -' -') and atheist ('.- -). But she never appears as an
atheist in her stories, only her approach to religion is intellectual. She could not
believe in dogmatic parts of religion, but she had faith in its ethical preaching.
She was concerned with only moral aspects of religion. Her standards of right and
wrong were exactly those of the puritans ( =--- --). Her spiritual values were
based on human values, not on the Bible. She believes that anyone leading a
virtuous life enjoys real happiness and is essentially contented with life.
Some critics have claimed that George Eliot could not be a moralist, as she
herself was immoral in her life. She was living with Lewis without marriage. But,
if we consider through the views of human values, she did not commit any
immoral act. Lewis wife had left him and George Eliot wanted to console him
and second marriage is not allowed in Christianity.
Like Fielding, Eliot also wrote with definite purpose, which was to inject
the moral into people. However, her concept of morality was quite different from
that of Fielding. In fact, she wanted to vex ('- ') or reshape the consciousness
of the individuals to reform the whole society. For this reason, she used her
novels as a platform for moral preaching. She gave psychological insight of her
characters, thus making them more lifelike and acceptable. She thought them her
morality through their sufferings and experiences. Her moral belief is clear from
her following statements:
Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds.
Egoism is the central idea of her novels. She describes how an egoistic
creates problems for himself as well as for others. In Adam Bede, she strikes at
the feudal egoism in the character of Arthur. He wanted to overcome his flaws
but it was an inborn quality, which brought the catastrophe in the novel.
George Eliot stresses on the balance between the interests of the self and
that of the other selves. She thinks that no one can be moral, unless he breaks
the prison of the self. She wants people to look upon the sufferings of the people
around them and pity them. She feels that even the weakest person has
something to be admired. According to her, no one get ultimate happiness unless
he maintains content relationship with human beings.
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She believes that sufferings are essential for the development of personality,
because sufferings mould a man. Through the medium of sufferings an egoistic
matures. She shows her characters suffers and learns a lot. Adams sympathies
are widened through his sufferings and his feelings of self-righteousness
gradually lessen. Hetty also regenerates and matures through her sufferings.
She wants people to maintain emotional self-control. Passions should
always be under the control of reason, as sentimentality destroys man and brings
his downfall. In Adam Bede Arthurs and Hettys sentimentality brought their
tragedy and to which there was no remedy.
Eliot in her stories lay stress on absoluteness (--=-- -=) of duty. To her, one
should not compromise on duty at any cost. Hetty does not care for her duty
towards her uncle and aunt and in her vanity goes far away. Thats why she
suffers.
Eliot thinks that endurance and renunciation (.- --) are necessary for
happy and successful life. Adam remains unsatisfied, when he is rash and
intolerant but becomes calm and peaceful when he regenerates and through his
sufferings and learns to endure others. Dinah is also a symbol of endurance and
patience.
Eliot believes in the justice in life. According to her, virtuous people live a
contented life and a sinner or an immoral man is sure to meet his fate (-------).
She is sure that one cant escape from the consequences of ones own actions.
Even the smallest sin will have its punishment, though not immediately, yet in
times to come. Hetty and Arthur both are example of her that belief.
In the end, it can be said that Eliot preached the religion of morality.
However, her approach to moralization was aesthetic (-'-''-=) and not conservative
(---- ---). She linked ethics with aesthetics. In fact, ethics were driving force of her
novels. In short, she was definitely a moralist like any other novelist and her
novels were a criticism of life.
Q 9:
What is Methodism? Is Adam Bede a propagation of
this religious phenomenon?
Answer:
Methodism may be defined as a movement of reaction against the apathy
(' -.--) of the Church of England that prevailed in the early part of 18
th

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century. John Wesley, who was a student at Oxford and took holy orders in 1725,
founded this movement. Methodist society was formed in 1729 when a few young
men at Oxford came together under his leadership. Their object was the
promotion of piety and morality. The greatest success of this movement was
among the lower classes. When the Methodist movement strengthened, lady
preachers were appointed to meet the need. First Wesley Conference was held in
1744, in which women were allowed to preach but later they were restricted to
preach. In the beginning, this movement worked under the established church,
but as the society grew, it became more independent. However, separation was
made after the death of Wesley in 1791.
Adam Bede was published in 1859, but the story of the novel takes place
in 1799. This was the time of most stirring (' --`) events all over the world.
Civil war was fought in United States, in Italy there raised the Movement of
Independence, Japan came out of self-imposed isolation, Russia freed her
occupied areas, and France fell to internal strife. But Hays lope in England, in
which the action of the novel takes place, remains unaffected by all these events.
In Adam Bede, the famous religious movement of the time, Methodism, is
discussed.
Dinah Morris, who is one of the most devoted and firm Methodist,
represents this movement. She is a very influential preacher and her sermons
show the characteristics of Methodist preaching. Her first appearance in the novel
is in a sermon at Hays lope. This sermon has a purely Methodist appeal. At first
there is an emphasis on Gods love for poor, then there is a call for repentance
over the sins and in the end there is warning against worldly vanity. This speech
is very much similar to one of the speeches of Wesley.
This speech creates a moving affect on the audience. However, by and large,
the people of Hays lope remained unaffected by Methodism, while people of
Snowfield are more receptive ( - -) of it.
Dinah is an example of the most sincere type of Methodist. She has a soft
nature and has great sympathy for the sinners. Her chief aim is to know the will
of God and to follow it. She consults the Bible before taking any crucial decision.
Hence, she rejects Seth and accepts Adam after consolation.
Dinahs Methodist spirit also appears on two occasions. First one is when
she visits Lisbeth Bede to console her on her husbands death. With her soothing
words and manners, she helps Lisbeth to regain her self control. Dinah gets this
healing touch through her Methodist learning.
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The other occasion comes when Dinah meets Hetty in prison and makes
her confess. Hetty has no concept of the agony of soul. She fears only for the
suffering of the body. But Dinah makes her feel the physical presence of God with
them. She urges Hetty, To put a new fear within her-the fear of her sin. Thus,
because of Dinahs efforts and prayers, Hetty realizes the sufferings of her soul,
confesses her crime and repents on her sin.
The novel also presents the tolerant attitude of the established church
towards Methodism.
Through a short speech at the end, it is made clear that Dinah is not going
to preach anymore. It is because the Second Wesley Conference has forbidden the
women to preach. It was felt that women preachers did more harm than goodness
with their preaching. But Dinah does not belong to that group of women. She is a
symbol of purity and a force of good. Moreover, much of the story involves
Methodism and hence it progresses through Dinah. However, Eliot is more
concerned with the psychology of the characters and their moral choice. She
wants to moralize the people and Dinahs Methodist approach also highlights the
moral elements to be developed in the people.